April 20, 2020

#QOW – How to demystify the Future of Server Side Ad Insertion (SSAI) ?

There has been some discussion lately about publishers failing to work effectively with SSAI services in 2020, resulting in an inability to effectively pass data back to advertisers and a corresponding diminution of dynamic measurement, personalization and optimization.

This is panic pandering. In fact, SSAI can be much more reliable than antiquated client-side integrations in the programmatic value chain.

Getting SSAI Services right from the beginning

If the correct data is passed to the SSAI service, the server-to-server protocols downstream are designed to pass this information along correctly and all players are incentivized to do so.

Let’s be clear about what “getting things right” means.

All that is required from the publisher is to pass a device ID and a bit of context when making a request for the video stream. The rest, including IP and User-Agent, can be collected directly from HTTP headers. As a result, SSAI services implementations are actually much simpler to implement than back in the day when publishers had to account for dozens of different types of VPAIDs running their own client-side code and threatening to break the user-experience at any given point. I don’t want to bring back the ghosts of the past but any Ad Ops person who has ever worked with an engineering team on a VPAID player implementation knows what I’m talking about…

SSAI services designed for measurement

The real question about SSAI comes down to measurement. The MRC has yet to come out with a spec for SSAI providers to comply with on measurement but there are two strategic options:

1. Rely on authentication and server-side pixels with the appropriate query parameters.

Servers that fire measurement pixels (ie. the SSAI provider) should be authenticated which is pretty easy to do considering that there are a handful of SSAI providers today.

2. Client-side integrations that run in parallel of the stitched ad.

That is the approach that Roku takes with partners like Nielsen and Comscore. That is also the philosophy behind the IAB’s Open Measurement initiative.

3 reasons why you should adopt SSAI in 2020

I have no doubt that SSAI measurement will become widely adopted in the next year or so. CTV publishers, who pay a hefty price for their SSAI service, are the first impacted by CTV fraud schemes slowing down the shift in budgets from traditional to connected tv.

If we consider measurement to be a soon-to-be solved issue, I think we can all agree that there is every reason to adopt SSAI, but just to recap:

  • Speed, efficiency and reliability ⚡⚡
  • Removing the need for client-side code and preparing your ad stack for a cookie-less future 🍪 🥊
  • Enabling programmatic selling and measurement across all devices through a single integration. 🤓 ⚙️
This will become the new norm and we should all embrace it.

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Posted BY:
Clement Poty